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In this video Stefan Grossman gets you tuned up and introduces blues guitar in the Key of C.
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Hi I'm Stephen Grossman and welcome to how to Play Blues Guitar. I picked out a whole bunch of what I think are lovely tunes, interesting tunes, challenging tunes to learn to play and lots of different keys. So the end result will hopefully give you a control, a mastery of your guitar so you can tackle lots of different things.
Well let me start off in the key of C, and the first thing I want to do is to try to get you in tune. Here’s my high E string.
And that should be to pitch, you tune your guitar to that and let’s go to the B string.
And now our G.
And how about our D.
And our A.
And our low E.
Now you should be in tune but to double check, let’s just play a C chord.
And sometimes you may have to tweak some notes or some of the strings a little bit to get it perfectly in tune but let’s hear.
That sounds pretty good. Now take a look at my left hand. The C chord I'm playing is with my pinky on the third fret of that first string, the high G. And if you stay looking at my left hand, you’ll see that my ring finger is on the third fret of the fifth string but it’s going to sometimes walk up to the third fret of the sixth string. We’re going to have this—what I call it alternating bass. Now we’ll talk about that in a second. We want to learn the other chords that we generally play in the key of C and this can be difficult, it’s an F chord. Now don’t groan. You're going to have to try to get this because this is an important chord. Classical players will play it this way. They would use a bar but we want to play it like this because it’s going to be much more convenient and you’ll see why over these lessons that we’ll be giving you.
Your thumb is going to grasp the first fret of the sixth string. You're going to do a little bar with your index finger on the first frets of the first and second, middle finger down in the second fret of the third and you have your ring finger now on the third fret of the fourth. And you might ask what happens to that fifth string? I'm just touching very, very slightly with my ring finger the fifth string so it’s deadened. Or, you can actually, some people are able to, with their ring finger, bar, goes to the third fret of the fifth and the fourth. But basically we just want to have five strings playing because we’re going to have an alternating bass around this.
And then we’re going to have a G chord and again, a simple first position G chord. I do suggest, take a look at this, that you play it this way, with your pinky down on the third fret of the first string. A lot of people, and some great guitar players, they’ll play it like this, which doesn’t make too much sense to me because when you're in the key of C, and you want to go to a G, it’s much easy than have to go like that and then do a whole movement. So what are the chords we have? A C, we can put our pinky down, on the first fret, the third fret of the first string. We have an F chord. We have a G chord and with this G chord, we can also play a G7. Our index finger was at the first fret of the first string and sometimes we put also our ring finger—pinky on the third fret of the second string.
So those are the chords we’re going to use in the key of C. Now the first thing that we’re going to tackle in this alternating bass style which I hope you are somewhat acquainted with, but if not, let’s just go over it a little bit. In the key of C, we’re first going to adjust the alternating between the fifth and the fourth string.
Now it’s not playing boom-boom, we’re actually playing boom-shift, almost hit and then a strum and I’ll also take a look at that left hand and you’ll see that I'm sort of loosening up the fingers once I play the notes. So I get a sort of a staccato effect. And now I'm going to rock that ring finger and I like you to just try that with me very slowly.
And I'm going to kill the strings now. So I killed the strings that I was playing but yet the guitar is still sounding and that’s because my thumb is getting a good chick.
Now let’s go to that F chord and again you hear how full it sounds, really laying into those even beats. And then the G chord—
And back to the C.
Now another thing we’re going to attempt to do is to sort of play—put a little salt and pepper, some spice into that bass. So with our palm of our right hand, we’re going to lay it on the bass strings of our guitar. It sort of deadens the sound. It dampens the sound of the bass.
Now why would we want to do that?
So that the treble in the melody lines we’re going to play are going to ring out.
Well that’s something that may take you time. You may have to go back to that after you’ve learned quite a few of the tunes because if you're not doing it right away, to try to adapt that to your playing, can take a little bit of practice. So we’re in the key of C and the first tune that I learned when I was learning how to pick guitar was a tune called Railroad Bill. Now one thing this DVD lesson takes advantage of is that we can put some audio, audio tracks on as bonus tracks. So throughout this lesson, I'm going to tell you to stop the visual part and go to the audio track and listen to one of the recordings of the tune that I'm teaching you. We don’t have recordings of all the tunes but in this case we do and this is a 1920s recording, the first recording of this tune and it’s Will Bennett doing Railroad Bill. So you just—you go to that and then when you come back, I’ll be teaching you how to play Railroad Bill the way I play it but at least you’ll hear the lyrics and you get an idea for the feel for the tune.